Seven years ago – when I experienced my first panic attack – I thought I was the pinnacle of health. I was 35 years old and in the best shape of my life. I’d been working out at least five days a week for over 10 years; I had just come off a two-year period of running several half-marathons along with lifting weights. I was able to eat and drink whatever I wanted without gaining much weight even though I was constantly battling belly fat. I was raising two awesome kids on my own and had earned my master’s degree with straight As. I had a good paying job recently earning a promotion to manager of the team. While I loved my job, it was a constant firedrill. EVERYTHING was an emergency and I worked a lot of extra hours to make sure I was the best at my job as I could be. Finally, I had planned a wedding in short four months.
But there were two sneaky factors that came to a head that day that likely contributed to my panic attack: chronic lack of sleep and stress. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, I have struggled with insomnia since I was 26 years old while I was going through my divorce. My sleep was no better at this time, nine years later, even though this time the stress on my body and mind were all very positive.
Unfortunately, I did not take the time to figure out what caused that first panic attack. I thought it was a one-time issue and would be less stressed with the wedding over. Then six weeks later, I was pregnant and forced to slow down due to the normal fatigue and nausea of pregnancy.
The Power of Gratitude Journaling
The fact is, if you slow down and focus on self care, your body will at some point make you slow down. One form of self-care I wish I had done during that time is gratitude journaling, which is basically writing down what you are grateful for. According to this article in Forbes, practicing gratitude not only improves mental health but it also improves sleep and physical well-being.
Tips for Gratitude Journaling
If you want to start journaling with gratitude – or want to take your current gratitude journaling to the next level – check out this article. I love these tips:
- Write down not only WHAT you’re grateful for but WHY you’re grateful. For example, instead of writing only, “I’m grateful for my children,” add the reason such as, “I’m grateful for my children because they gave me many hugs and kisses today which made me feel loved.”
- Don’t just go through the motions. Actually feel what you wrote and spend a few minutes thinking about your WHAT and WHY.
- Focus on people rather than things for which you’re grateful. Your journal entries will be more meaningful, especially when you look back at what you wrote.
- Take your time and try to journal daily. Many people journal at a set time during their day, such as bedtime or upon waking in the morning.
- Don’t restrict yourself to a certain number of gratitude items. Some days you’ll feel like writing more, some days less. Remember, the feelings behind your journal entry are what really counts.
Comment below if you gratitude journal and if you experience benefits. I’d love to hear from you!
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram! @katewilliamshealth